Nayla Al Khaja

College: Dubai Women's College
Year of Graduation: 1999

Nayla Al Khaja is the first Emirati female film maker and producer in the United Arab Emirates. She completed a Higher Diploma in Mass Communications at the HCT Dubai Women’s College. She went on to teach illustration, design and computer skills at the college before embarking on a career in radio, where she both produced and presented shows. She then went on to discover a love of film-making.

After graduation she started making short films and hit the jackpot with her first film, Arabana (2006), which won a lot of praise for its dark overtones and controversial subject matter. It touched on the sensitive topic of child abuse, and was used by UNICEF in one of its awareness campaigns.

Her short film, Malal (Boredom) won Best Script Award in the Gulf Film Festival in 2010 and shortly after became the first Emirati-Indian film shot in Kerala. The film debuted at the Dubai International Film Festival in December of the same year and won first place in the Muhr Emirati category.

She is also winner of the British Council’s International Young Screen Entrepreneur Awad (2010), after competing against ten other finalists from around the world. She’s the guiding force behind ‘The Scene Club’, the UAE’s first official film club featuring independent cinema.

She is the CEO of D-SEVEN Motion Pictures and D-SEVEN FZ LLC, a marketing and design agency that offers full media campaign and corporate branding services.